Open Pit Barbecue Sauce Review (2/5)

When I was growing up in Hudson MA, there was short time right after we got a huge-ass freezer in the basement that we’d get shipments of food delivered to us in bulk for the purposes of stocking MEGA FREEZER.  It was called Hill Food Service and I forget if my parents saved money on it or not, but it was a fun process.  On a monthly basis, the six of us would sit at the dinner table and each get to pick some items from a giant print out.  At that time (I was only about 10 years old), I was more focused on sugary cereals – so what I really wanted was Cocoa Puffs (for the free Ovaltine packets) to stock our huge ass pantry.  At the same time, there was a large sale on … you guessed it… Open Pit Barbecue Sauce.  A lot of it.  So, I may be rating this a little more harshly because we had to go through about 100 bottles of this crap in a bottle.


Tangy and sweet.  To me it just doesn’t taste like a BBQ sauce should. It’s got the most bizarre, unnatural smell and the flavor is more like French dressing than BBQ sauce.  It goes on anything… meaning that you can add this to just about anything (pork, chicken, ribs, burgers, seafood) and it will be sure to ruin it.  Trust me, we went through a lot of this stuff.


Unnaturally smooth and somewhat on the watery side.  Clings well to meat – probably due to a chemically produced reaction/effect from the titanium dioxide mixing with the hydrolyzed corn and soy protein.  Yum.


High fructose corn syrup, water, distilled vinegar, tomato puree (water, tomato paste), salt, modified food starch, contains less than 2% of: soybean oil, hydrolyzed corn and soy protein, spice, onion powder, dehydrated garlic, artificial tomato flavor, natural and artificial flavor, colored with (yellow 6, red 40, blue 1, titanium dioxide), caramel color


Site Editor, BBQ Sauce Lover, Family Guy, Hi Tech Marketer by Day. He recently wrote the Ebook “How to Market Your BBQ Sauce” which can be purchased on this site.



  1. Ivery Toussant, Jr. says

    I grew up enjoying the Open Pit bar-be-que sauses. For an inexpensive bar-be-que sause, I found the flavor rich and the tecture great. My favorites were the hickory smoked, regular and the hot and spicey/zesty. Over the years the flavor and quality has significantly deminished. Instead of having a rich good flavor it taste more like flavored grease. I am very disappointed. I guess you have started using flavor substitues. Go back to the old Open Pit. I remember the commercials with the black man saying “making my cooking proud”. I bet he will not say that now.

  2. I am obsessed with this sauce. The grocery store is packed with sweet and smokey BBQ sauces….this one is different. Its tangy. It is a little spicy and has a vinegar base rather than sugar. Its a product I have always loved and now its no longer available in the supermarket, so I must be the only one who appreciates it:(

  3. Liz is spot on. I love this stuff. If you like smokey BBQ, this is not for you. It is different, tangy is a great description.

  4. I disagree with the reviewer on this one. This has long been my favorite sauce. I like my BBQ to get it’s Smokey flavor from the Smoker, not from artificial flavors in the sauce. Open pit has a smooth tangy flavor that caramelizes well on the meat. I use it on chicken, pork and ribs and my family loves it.

    As Liz said it so difficult to find in supermarkets, but I have been fortunate. A local restaurant food distributor sells it and I now buy it by the gallon, which is good since we go through a lot of it.

  5. ShellyBean says


    Just thought I’d chime in on this thread here regarding Open Pit BBQ sauce. As of today, 6/12/12, the have new labeling on their bottles. I had heard before going gluten free that certain flavors had wheat in them, including the onion flavor (which is my absolute fav!) I decided to call the company and ask directly about the “modified” food starch & caramel color being safe. I was given the general response of “it should list any included additives in all of our products”. The rep did go on to say that specifically the Thick & Tangy line of sauces will list wheat on the back, also saying that many of those DOES contain wheat. They also promised to send me a coupon for future use, which I thought was nice.

    Has anyone had any trouble after consuming the Onion flavored Open Pit? It does contain a rather large amount of sugar, but it’s simply the best on the market, in my opinion. I tried the Stubbs BBQ sauce, (which states GLUTEN FREE) and I’m really not a fan. I can’t stand any of those Sweet Baby Ray’s, or KFC types of sauces. GROSS!!!!

  6. This is by far the grossest sauce I’ve ever had. I used to work at a restaurant that used this as their sauce on the ribs. Almost every customer would complain about the weird tasting sauce. It was also used as the house barbecue sauce for chicken tenders, etc. Almost everyone complained about the flavor. In my opinion, it is NOT barbecue sauce. Waaaay too tangy, no sweetness, and no smoke flavor. To respond to a previous poster…the smoke doesn’t have to come from the sauce, but the sauce should complement it. Open Pit fails miserably in this regard. I would rather just dip the meat into a vat of vinegar and ketchup mixed together and get the same results. Eww.

  7. A lot of pizza places use this for their Wings… and yes its cheap. But real palates … real people who know real food… would crave something like this. Its far different than the sticky gooey… regular BBQ taste when they are in the mood. This BBQ Sauce might be labeled as the cheapest… but take a note from foodies… and maybe think about a TV show like Chopped, cheap or weird ingredients can be turned into nostalgic amazing food. It boggles my mind people would be turned off by something different. If anything the Vinegar presence in this BBQ sauce is sometimes much better than that cloying sweetness that Sweet Baby Rays might give. And Yes I mentioned yet another cheap BBQ sauce in which the public DO rave is *Good*.

    • It’s certainly OK to disagree with me… all of the sauce reviews are based solely on my opinion. I love that you are passionate about the sauce too – even though you are wrong 🙂

      Sauce On,

  8. I have to admit, I’m older than God’s dog. When I was a kid this was the only sauce available period! It was what inroduced me to the whole concept. I sure as h%#@ have tasted a lot worse.

  9. Vincente says

    I just plain hate it everything about the taste. It’s not real bbq sauce it’s red looking water. Pass on this wanna be bbq if you want real bbq try sweet baby ray’s its 10 times better.

  10. Richard K. says

    Unfortunately I have to say the changes to the recipe have not been favorable to the original recipe lovers of Open Pit BBQ sauce. Trending today are sauces that seem to be more sweet than anything. Open Pit was originally meant to be cooked on the BBQ, not just eaten straight out of the bottle like sauces today. I grew up with Open Pit and loved it… that is until it changed, now I’m not sure what it is. It’s a shame that such a great original recipe has suffered in the name of profit. I would love to find a recipe I can make myself that could compare… if anyone knows of any please reply to this comment… I’d love you for it!

  11. Fat Memphis Slob says

    The best sauce I have ever tasted is TOPS Barbecue sauce (a barbecue joint chain in Memphis). This is the closest that I’ve found (no, its not quite there…) to TOPS sauce. I have seen a couple of the ingredients of TOPS sauce (one is a Sisco restaurant product), but not all of them. I do know that another Memphis 3-joint chain, BRADS, uses this sauce.
    Most sauces taste like brown sugar, ketchup, and liquid smoke (eechh).
    btw, Corky’s (in Memphis) is a tourist trap. Their pork doesn’t taste the least bit smoky and their sauce tastes like Kra[p]ft.

  12. Fat Memphis Slob says

    btw…TOPS sauce cannot be bought in grocery stores.

  13. I thought this sauce was really good. Used it on ribs and am surprised to find so many hating on it. It doesn’t seem to have a strong or different enough flavour to get people giving it one or two star reviews but that’s all you see these self professed “experts ” giving it. It’s good sauce.

  14. I love open pit. I find that its best use for me is making awesome sloppy joes. I like if for the reason others dislike it. I like my sauce tangy and less sweet. I am used to eating eastern north carolina vinegar sauce however.

  15. I am so disappointed with open pit. The sauce was so thin that it ran off of the meat. I had to keep putting more on to stay on.. Went down and bought famous daves and used that. That sauce stayed on.

  16. gideon bronte says

    Interestingly, Danny Meyer of shake shack, eleven Madison etc fame, used open pit until they started making their own sauce…. Anyway, if it’s good enough for Mr Meyer, it’s good enough for me lol….. Luv this sauce

  17. Absolutely Love Open Pit Sauce! Have been using it for years. It’s tangy not super sweet like other sauces. I am now trying to eat healthier and avoid GMO foods, High Fructose Corn Syrup etc. And guess what is in Open Pit? High Fructose Corn Syrup! Damn! They put that crap in everything! No wonder we have an obesity problem in America. Read your food labels people and avoid this ingredient like the plague! It’s in Chocolate Milk, our kids breakfast cereal, Almost all sweet junk food, you name it and it’s in there. A lot of people here say they like Sweet Baby Rays, it’s way too sweet for me and I’m glad because guess what? Massive amount of HFCS!

  18. Brett Carson says

    I initially had stopped ordering from open pit, due to, how many times they have consistantly gotten my order wrong and the extremely long wait to get your food. Now flash forward and entire year and the service is three times as bad. I ordered my food with an wait time of 30 minutes. It literal took me 30 minutes to drive there and then wait an additional 40 minutes only to demand an refund. Upon requesting a refund, due to, their own negligence, they have prevented me from ordering anymore over the phone.
    I LAUGH OUT LOUD AT YOU. I will never in my life visit such poorly run black owned businesses if you treat your customers time as if their time effort and energy are unimportant.

  19. Dingdongs, Open Pit clearly markets its sauce as a base to be doctored up as one sees fit.


  20. For all the negative comments, It’s marketed as a bbq base so pit masters and cooks can create their own unique blends — Or you can use it straight.

    Says it right on the bottle.

  21. I really love this sauce. I think you either love it or you don’t. It’s definitely a unique taste compared to other BBQ sauces.

  22. Landen Stephens says

    This sauce is absolute garbage, tastes awful in just about anything 1/10 for me…

  23. Betsy Thompson says

    You can order it on or I just bought a gallon very cheap

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